If you’re going to fish for catfish from a boat there’s two basic ways to fish. You’re either going to use your catfish boat to drift fish or you’re going to fish anchored in one location.
That’s a very basic look at catfishing techniques.
Sure, “drift fishing” covers a LOT of variations but in the end it all boils down to one thing, your boat is moving or it’s not.
There’s advantages and disadvantages to both techniques and certainly times where one will be a better option than the other. Regardless of which technique you’re going to use your success depends on having the right equipment for the technique and knowing how to use it the right way.
If you’re going to drift fish you’ll need a good set of drift socks if you’re going to drift with the wind. If you’re going to use a drift fishing technique that requires a motor you’ll need a good trolling motor and maybe even some more advanced technology like iPilot or iPilot Link.
If your plan is to target catfish on anchor, you’ll need two good anchors and you’ll need to know how to use them to anchor your boat correctly. You might even want some shallow water anchors for anchoring your boat in skinny water.
Choosing The Right Anchors
The basic foundation of anchoring your catfish boat is having good anchors that will hold your boat in heavy wind and in al of the conditions you’ll typically be fishing in.
That means that’s what’s best for one angler may be completely and totally different for another.
Whatever you choose your anchor needs to be capable of grabbing and holding your boat stil in heavy winds.
I use box anchors to anchor my SeaArk ProCat 240.
Box anchors are cheap (even cheaper if you make your own like shown here) and they hold really well in the silted in bottoms we have in lakes and reservoirs here in Texas.
I’ve used Digger Anchors in the past with great success. They work really well (and are also much easier to deploy and retrieve than the heavy box anchors).
I’ve got a Cat River Anchor that works really well also, especially in firmer or rocky bottom conditions (box anchors are meant to work in mud, they don’t perform nearly as well on rocky bottoms).
As a general rule, anything that doesn’t have some sort of claws or teeth on it that will allow it to dig into the bottom is not going to work well in any wind conditions beyond “very light”.
Many anglers default to cheap anchors and quickly find they’re a waste of money and end up buying (or building) something better.
Choose the right anchors the first time and when in doubt get anchors that are larger than what you “think” you need.
The Right Anchor Rope
In addition to making sure you have the right anchors, you’ll want to make sure you’ve got good anchor ropes that are the appropriate length.
If you buy (or build) good anchors you’re going to have a decent amount of money invested in them and you want to make sure they’re as secure as possible. In addition, if you’ve got cheap rope or rope that’s not intended to be used for anchoring you’re going to have issues anchoring correctly.
I won’t use anything other than braided nylon rope. It’s hands down the best option for anchors. It’s strong, it doesn’t stretch much and it holds up really well to use and abuse and it’s easy to handle when stowing and deploying anchors.
I also like to use brightly colored anchor rope because it’s easier to see not only on the boat deck but in the water also. I prefer the 3/8″ braided nylon rope and usually find the best deals on eBay or Amazon.
Regardless of which style of rope you choose you also want to make sure you have plenty of it. A good rule of thumb to follow is to have at least three times as much rope as the maximum anchor depth.
If the deepest water you’ll be anchoring in is 30 feet, you’ll need at least 90 feet of rope.
For 50 feet of water, you’ll need at least 150 feet of rope, etc.
The length of rope needed may fluctuate more or less for some anchors (again, every style is different) or the bottom composition of the area you’re anchoring in. A good general rule of thumb for most anchors is for them to work correctly you need at least two to three times the water depth deployed. The windier the conditions the more critical this becomes.
Make sure you have a good rope that will hold up and be easy to handle and make sure you have plenty of it.
Anchor Techniques For Catching Catfish
If you’re choosing to anchor then you’ve got two basic options.
One option is to cast your preferred catfish rigs and baits into a chosen area and fish with a “tight line”.
This means your fishing reels are engaged and the catfish baits are left in a chosen area while you wait for a catfish to come along and bite and then run so the circle hooks will hook (as long as you’re using the right catfish rods).
The other option is to anchor your boat and cast your baits where you’ll allow movement. This is a popular technique for channel catfish or when targeting other species of catfish with slip bobbers or rigs like the secret channel catfish rig.
Anchor The Right Way For Catfish In Lakes and Reservoirs
If you’re going to “tight line” then you’ll want the boat to stay perfectly still. This is where most people go wrong and get incredibly frustrated. It’s usually because they’re either not using the right anchors or not using the right technique for anchoring.
If your boat is swaying back and forth constantly moving and every time the slightest breeze blows your lines go slack or move your baits, you’re going to have a really tough time catching catfish.
If you’ve located catfish on your sonar and plan on anchoring and casting into them but you can’t get your boat to hold quickly and stay in the right place, you’re going to have a much harder time catching fish.
The more the wind is blowing, the tougher it will be for you.
Here’s how to anchor your boat the right way when catfishing in lakes and reservoirs.
These techniques are specific to lakes and reservoirs and not the best way to anchor in heavy currents.
In the future, we’ll be posting some information on safely anchoring in rivers or in heavy currents.
Here’s The Video
Here’s the video that covers everything you need to know.
Steps For Anchoring Your Catfish Boat
- Anchor the nose of the boat directly into the wind. Never anchor the transom of the boat into the wind for safety reasons.
- Deploy enough rope for the anchor to hold and then let out an additional rope to anchor over or near your target location and tie the rope off.
- Tie the anchor rope as close to the center of the nose of the boat as possible.
- Deploy the back anchor in your desired location. Let out enough rope for the anchor to hold and tie off to the back cleat.
- Pull excess rope on the front anchor rope to “tighten” boat ropes removing the excess from the front and back anchor ropes.
- When both the front and back ropes are tight tie the front rope back off on the front cleat.
- When done correctly your catfish boat will hold exactly where you deployed your anchors and will have very little sway or movement to it.
Again, there’s a time and place for every technique. Anchoring and catching catfish can be very effective but drift fishing also works very well (both using the wind to drift or using a trolling motor.
To get more information on drift fishing for catfish check out some of our other resources and tips.
For more in-depth information on drift fishing for catfish check out our Drift Fishing For Catfish ebook. This in-depth guide covers everything you need to know to get on the fast track to catching catfish drift fishing.